Lessons from National Service after your Diploma

If you think that the two years spent in National Service won’t help you in future, then you’re wrong! Here are three ways that the experience as a man in green puts you in a better stead after polytechnic.
Anne Grace Savitha
Writer, gradsingapore

A common path for many male diploma graduates is to head straight for National Service. It may seem to create a lapse between finishing polytechnic and launching your career or further studies. The gruelling trainings and exposure to the military industry itself prepares you with real world experiences, bridging the gap between your polytechnic education and the road ahead.

1. Gaining confidence through teamwork and leadership

As a diploma graduate, you may still be unsure about your career plans as there is so much more to discover about yourself. National Service consists several modules that will boost your self-development. For instance, there are trainings where you’ll need to lead your team, especially when you have a higher rank. This strengthens your confidence and leadership skills, which are applicable in the workforce or for your further studies.

Vigorous trainings also help to push you beyond boundaries. The BMT (Basic Military Training) experience will make you stronger mentally and physically, at the same time, inculcating valuable skills about teamwork and co-operation.

2. Finding out what you really want to do

If you’re confused about what you want to do after diploma, then the two years spent on National Service affords you ample time to decide your next step. In your free time, read up, and talk to seniors and mentors, so that you will be inspired to think about your future plans.

The diversity of people that you meet from all walks of life during National Service can offer you a better insight on different life paths and career options. With more exploration and self-discovery, you’ll know whether you want to continue in the same field as your diploma course of study or go into a new field entirely, be it for work or studies.

Sometimes, your vocation in the National Service helps in big and small ways to pave the path ahead for you. For example, if you have made up your mind on studying mechanical engineering after your diploma, working with military tanks and vehicles will be beneficial. Similarly, an exposure to human resources in the military setting helps you to gain a headstart to a career in this field. While you may not get to choose your vocation directly as it is assigned, the bottomline is to treasure these experiences and develop you skill sets broadly. At the same time, think about what you really want to do as you do not have to rush to decide.

3. Building resilience in the face of challenges

Your day-to-day routine in the army will be intense as you’ll need to cope with physical trainings and occasionally, difficult peers. Moreover, you’ll need to follow a strict regime such as waking up at a certain hour and completing physical trainings, whether you like it or not. Being away from friends and family takes you out your comfort zone. Adapting to these difficulties and overcoming any learning curves are worthwhile experiences.

Such resilience prepares you for challenges which lie ahead in your career and life, such as when you’re battling the books during further studies or encountering a difficult work situation.

So, use your National Service experience wisely to develop yourself through the different modules and trainings, and the networks and time you have on hand which are your greatest assets.